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Ezekiel 9-12 Listen
Those idolaters must die (Ezekiel 9)
1 He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.
2 And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.
3 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side;
4 And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
5 And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
7 And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.
8 And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?
9 Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.
10 And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head.
11 And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.
This prophecy is a continuation of the one which Ezekiel began before the leaders of the exile in Ezekiel 8 (see notes). The next part of Ezekiel's vision is distressing at best; he sees the execution of the idolaters back in Jerusalem. Those who are true to God are spared with a mark, but the rest are executed. While it would ultimately be the army of Babylon to take Jerusalem, Ezekiel is making it clear that it is God's judgment that will be responsible for the devastation.
You will notice in verse 4 that those "men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done" were given the mark that spared them from being slain in Ezekiel's vision. According to verse 7, not even the temple would be a sanctuary from death. Of course the Babylonians would be the ones to carry out this mission of death, and they had no regard for the temple in Jerusalem.
It is chilling to see God's attitude toward those Jews who had turned their backs on him in this passage. Verses 9-10 sum it up, "Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not. And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head."
1 Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.
2 And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in in my sight.
3 Now the cherubims stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court.
4 Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory.
5 And the sound of the cherubims’ wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh.
6 And it came to pass, that when he had commanded the man clothed with linen, saying, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubims; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels.
7 And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubims unto the fire that was between the cherubims, and took thereof, and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen: who took it, and went out.
8 And there appeared in the cherubims the form of a man’s hand under their wings.
9 And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubims, one wheel by one cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the colour of a beryl stone.
10 And as for their appearances, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel.
11 When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went.
12 And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had.
13 As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel.
14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.
15 And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar.
16 And when the cherubims went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubims lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them.
17 When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves also: for the spirit of the living creature was in them.
18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.
19 And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD’S house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.
20 This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims.
21 Every one had four faces apiece, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings.
22 And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Chebar, their appearances and themselves: they went every one straight forward.
Ezekiel sees those glorious creatures again while he is at the temple in Jerusalem (in a vision) - the same ones he saw in Ezekiel 1 (see notes). We see Ezekiel's identification of these creatures as cherubim (angels) in verses 15 and 20, where he also refers back to his vision of them in chapter 1. The significant aspect of this chapter is the fact that the glory of the Lord departs from the temple and is transported away with these heavenly creatures (verses 18-19). The glory finally departs because of the wickedness of Israel/Judah.
Remember that Ezekiel sees this happen in a vision from way over in Babylon. In his vision, the glory of the Lord departs from the temple in the same sensational fashion as when it had inhabited it at the dedication under Solomon (II Chronicles 7:1-3, see notes; I Kings 8:10-11, see notes). This glory of the Lord is frequently referred to as the "Shekinah Glory." Click here to read more about the Shekinah Glory.
How safe is meat in a cauldron? (Ezekiel 11:1-13)
1 Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD’S house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.
2 Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city:
3 Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh.
4 Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man.
5 And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.
6 Ye have multiplied your slain in this city, and ye have filled the streets thereof with the slain.
7 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Your slain whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and this city is the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it.
8 Ye have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord GOD.
9 And I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you.
10 Ye shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
11 This city shall not be your caldron, neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel:
12 And ye shall know that I am the LORD: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you.
13 And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?
Here's a cooking-pot metaphor. Ezekiel gets a vision of the wicked leaders of Jerusalem meeting at the gate - even names some of them by name in verse 1. These are likely the same men who were giving Jeremiah fits; according to verse 2, "these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city." The elders of a city met at the gate to do the business of the city. So, how safe is meat in a cauldron? Not very - these leaders in verses 8-11 are seen by Ezekiel in his vision being removed from the city and executed. In fact, that happened to these mischievous Jewish leaders in II Kings 25:18-21 (see notes).
A future restoration (Ezekiel 11:14-25)
14 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
15 Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get you far from the LORD: unto us is this land given in possession.
16 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.
17 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.
18 And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence.
19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
21 But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.
22 Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.
23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city.
24 Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me.
25 Then I spake unto them of the captivity all the things that the LORD had shewed me.
So, who are the fortunate ones here - those left in Jerusalem or those who had been exiled with Ezekiel to Babylon? Ezekiel's vision reveals that the exiles would comprise the remnant of Israel. He confirms the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 (see notes) as he talks about the return of Jews, their change of heart and the future glory of Israel. Then the heavenly creatures are gone from Jerusalem altogether, taking the glory of God with them.
So, is this return in Ezekiel's vision the return under Cyrus in 535 B.C. or a yet-future millennium? Notice Ezekiel 11:19-20, "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God." These New Covenant characteristics of the return mentioned here seem to indicate a description of the yet-future millennium. (Click here to read the notes on Hebrews 8 regarding the provisions of the New Covenant.)
Ezekiel tells us in verse 25 that he went to the exiles in Babylon and told them the details of this prophecy.
Jerusalem's captivity and destruction (Ezekiel 12)
1 The word of the LORD also came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.
3 Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house.
4 Then shalt thou bring forth thy stuff by day in their sight, as stuff for removing: and thou shalt go forth at even in their sight, as they that go forth into captivity.
5 Dig thou through the wall in their sight, and carry out thereby.
6 In their sight shalt thou bear it upon thy shoulders, and carry it forth in the twilight: thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the ground: for I have set thee for a sign unto the house of Israel.
7 And I did so as I was commanded: I brought forth my stuff by day, as stuff for captivity, and in the even I digged through the wall with mine hand; I brought it forth in the twilight, and I bare it upon my shoulder in their sight.
8 And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me, saying,
9 Son of man, hath not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said unto thee, What doest thou?
10 Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them.
11 Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them: they shall remove and go into captivity.
12 And the prince that is among them shall bear upon his shoulder in the twilight, and shall go forth: they shall dig through the wall to carry out thereby: he shall cover his face, that he see not the ground with his eyes.
13 My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there.
14 And I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him to help him, and all his bands; and I will draw out the sword after them.
15 And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries.
16 But I will leave a few men of them from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; that they may declare all their abominations among the heathen whither they come; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
17 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
18 Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness;
19 And say unto the people of the land, Thus saith the Lord GOD of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the land of Israel; They shall eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment, that her land may be desolate from all that is therein, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein.
20 And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
21 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
22 Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?
23 Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.
24 For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel.
25 For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD.
26 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
27 Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.
28 Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord GOD.
This vision is a continuation of the session that began back in chapter 8. "What is that prophet up to now?" the people must have asked. He is seen packing his bags and leaving by day, but returning, digging through his own wall upon his return by night - what's up with that? God tells him to explain to them what it all means...when they get around to asking. As it turns out, this is a prophecy concerning the capture, blinding and deportation of King Zedekiah back in Jerusalem along with the others who are not killed or otherwise escape the sword. That's the gruesome reality of verse 13 concerning Zedekiah, "My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there." King Zedekiah did try to escape Jerusalem, but was captured. The last thing King Zedekiah witnessed before being blinded by the Babylonians was the murder of his children right before his eyes (II Kings 25:1-21; II Chronicles 36:17-21, see notes). Ezekiel saw this coming and prophesies these events to the exiles.
Verses 17-26 are designed to display the imminent nature of Ezekiel's vision regarding the ultimate fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel's audience tried to convince themselves that none of his prophecies would come true - that Ezekiel never got it right (verse 22). Obviously, Ezekiel was having a little difficulty getting respect. Again remember, all of this was prophesied from way over in Babylon before Jerusalem actually fell to the Babylonians. God gives Ezekiel his reply to these skeptics in verse 28, "Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord GOD."